“I’m so thankful to be in this church.”
I was encouraged to hear this guy say those words to me. He had been an incredible addition as a church member and personal friend. I expected him to say that he was grateful to be a part of the church due to the preaching, worship, programs, etc., but that’s not what he said.
“I’m thankful you are here too,” I responded. “What specifically makes you thankful?”
“I’m thankful to be in this church where I’m not questioning if the ministry staff actually works hard.”
It wasn’t what I expected him to say, but I heard the message loud and clear. Before he moved to our city, his church was led by leaders of which it was unsure if they were actually leading. He thought they were lazy. They were doing the bare minimum, and the church felt it.
As we finished the conversation, the Spirit reminded me of a verse I had recently studied in my Bible reading plan that resonated with me and for that conversation:
Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD with slackness…Jeremiah 48:10a
I remember the verse leaped off the page at me. In this context, God is speaking about the judgment of a horrific group of people. Another nation would bring about the judgment on earth by their defeat, but God mentioned how the work needed to be done completely and not half-heartedly. These people were so evil; they hurt others so horribly that someone needed to stop them.
So, the entire verse is far more intriguing:
Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD with slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed.Jeremiah 48:10
So, given the entire context, I don’t encourage anyone in ministry leadership to try and apply the entirety of this message, but I want you to see the heart of it.
If God calls you to something, do it with all your might.
While that phrase in Jeremiah speaks to how one group needed to do a particular type of work, any effort made in the work of God ought to be our absolute best. People often accept ministry efforts as mediocre because God knows our hearts and is supposedly lenient to halfhearted attempts.
God knows our hearts, and that’s why we need to work our tails off.
Don’t be lazy as you serve Jesus! Why?
- He gave His all, so don’t give your leftovers.
- You are asking people who work hard in their workplaces to volunteer in yours – you must lead by example.
- Your work has eternal implications.
You may not want to use Jeremiah 48:10 as your focal verse for ministry, but you definitely want to get the warning of doing the work of God in a slack manner to stick. The Bible does speak clearly in additional places for how we ought to fulfill what He has called us to do. These verses take the slackness warning and further reveal God’s heart to us doing the work He has assigned us to with our lives.
- Do your best as you prepare to handle God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15).
- Work hard so that no one can find fault in your ministry (2 Cor. 6:3).
- Lead by example so that others would desire to imitate you (Heb. 13:7).
- You must be ready to minister in any situation at any time (2 Tim. 4:2).
- God’s Spirit makes us disciplined ministers – not timid ones (2 Tim. 1:7).
- We should not be ministers who are negligent in this important work (2 Ch. 29:11).
- We should portray a willing and eager desire to lead God’s people (1 Pet. 5:2).
- Realize you will have to give an account for how you led God’s people (Heb. 13:17).
- Understand that your blind direction could hurt those following you (Luke 6:39).
- Pastors are called to be disciplined workers above reproach who serve not out of what they can get out of it (Titus 1:7).
- Your job will be hard, but endure the suffering and fulfill the ministry God gave to you (2 Tim. 4:5).
- While you work with people, you ultimately work for God – that ought to fire you up (Col. 3:23).
As a pastor, I have realized that some people in the ministry overwork, and many underwork. The ministry is one of the easiest areas to either work yourself to exhaustion or slack enough to do the bare minimum. And while people may not see what you do all day, God does, and the people in your ministry will eventually see the fruit as well.
You might be able to fool some in your ministry into believing that you are working hard, but God knows your real efforts. I want to encourage anyone doing the work of the LORD – don’t you dare do it halfway.
Don’t be a ministry slacker. God is too good, and these people need too much not to give them your all.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.